Friday, February 22, 2013

That child can't be gifted; he has a disability - MYTH #3

Twice Exceptional Children

By Guest Contributor, Christine Hawkins, Gifted Educator

MYTH:  “That child can’t be gifted.  He has a disability.”  I hesitate to admit that as a young adult and new regular classroom teacher, I once held those words to be true.  Fortunately, with the passage of time, maturity, and continued education, I now recognize the fallacy in this quote.

TRUTH:  Giftedness and disability are not mutually exclusive.  According to Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph. D., founder of The Institute for the Study of Advanced Development, and its subsidiary, Gifted Development Center, “up to one sixth of the identified gifted population has a hidden learning disability.”  The strengths of gifted students can also be weaknesses because their high IQ may allow them to compensate for and/or mask disabilities.  According to authors Kennedy, Banks, and Grandin, in the book Bright Not Broken:  Gifted Kids, ADHD, and Autism, “the characteristics of Attention Deficit Disorder, Highly Functioning Autism, and Giftedness are strikingly similar.”  The three all may involve intensity, inattention, exceptional vocabulary, behavioral/communicative difficulties, and delays or weaknesses in social development.
Giftedness can coexist with learning disabilities.  Individuals with such an overlap are referred to as “twice exceptional” (or 2e) children.  Unfortunately, parents and teachers may focus on the problem behaviors of twice exceptional children, instead of taking into account the gifts or deficits that might be the motivating force behind a child’s behavior.  James Webb, a 2e expert, states “The belief exists that gifted kids will make it on their own.  But a gifted mind doesn’t always find its own way.”  In the case of 2e children, this is especially true.  These students require a strengths-based education which incorporates interventions to address individual deficits as well as activities to foster and develop abilities and talents.

In 2008, Congress passed Section 504 of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which states that students with a disability can obtain an evaluation and services if the disability restricts their ability to learn, think, concentrate or communicate.   Because 2e students can often compensate for their area of disability, and achieve in the average range, schools might not independently pursue diagnosis of a disability.  Due to Section 504, parents may file a written request for an evaluation if they believe their child’s disability restricts their youngster’s ability to learn.  After diagnosis, the twice exceptional child’s unique needs can be properly addressed through instructional strategies which may include grouping with other gifted children, accelerated curriculum in areas of strengths, and support from specially trained teachers in areas or disability. 

As a parent of a 19 year old twice exceptional student, we discovered the wealth of support services available at Arizona State University at their Disability Resource Center only after his freshman year.   My child was labeled as gifted in the second grade, and was able to compensate for his “hidden” Attention Deficit Disorder through high school.  Because of this, we did not pursue an official ADD diagnosis, fearing the ensuing label would carry with it more consequences than benefits.  In hindsight, this diagnosis would have enabled a much more positive transition to academic success in college.   After a rocky start, we privately obtained the diagnosis of disability which made our child eligible for support from a counselor at the Disability Resource Center, accommodations in classes, and even the use of a Smart Pen for taking notes.  He is once again experiencing academic success.  We discovered (a bit late in the game) that high school seniors on their way to college or seeking accommodations at the university level can request a re-assessment under the specifications found within Section 504. 

It is entirely possible for giftedness to co-exist with a learning or behavioral disability.  With planning and support, twice exceptional students can turn their difficulties into triumphs through building upon strengths while addressing areas of weakness.


Many thanks to Shari Murphy, our guest presenter last night.    She did a fantastic job with her presentation on the Twice Exceptional Student.  During her presentation Dabrowski’s Overexcitibilities were mentioned.  Click here to go to our website if you are interested in learning more about the “OEs.”   

Many thanks to Barb VeNard and her team – for their time and efforts last night as well as over the last few years as they have sought ways to provide increased services to our gifted students and involve the community in that process, especially during a time when the legislature has defunded gifted education.   Last night, questions arose about - 

Want to get involved?  Email us at and ask how you can help!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Astronaut Presentation in Gilbert!

Former NASA Astronaut and Space Station Commander, Dr. Leroy Chiao to present at Mesquite High School 

Date:  February 21, 2013

Time:  4:00pm

Location:  500 South McQueen Rd. - Mesquite HS, in Lecture Hall B

Register for this event at:

Purpose:  To introduce the new Aerospace Engineering program that will begin at MHS fall 2013

Who:  Anyone age 12 and up
Dr. Chiao will be sharing real world stories with students interested in the program based on his extensive work as a NASA Astronaut, which included four space missions and over 229 days in space.  Dr. Chiao most recently served as Commander and NASA Science Officer of Expedition 10 aboard the International Space Station.

The Aerospace Engineering program will be offered to incoming freshman and upcoming sophomores for the fall of 2013 at Mesquite High School. The engaging curriculum provides students the opportunity to  apply engineering standards through hands-on projects, use industry standard 3D modeling software, and analyze, design, and build aerospace systems. 

For more information on the Aerospace Engineering Program coming to Mesquite High School go to the News section of the Mesquite HS homepage.

Event sponsors:  Diomics Corporation, BASC Expertise

Event host:  The Gilbert Education Foundation


WHAT:  Science & Engineering Festival
DATE:  Friday, February 22, 2013
TIME: 5-8pm
WHERE:  ASU Polytechnic Campus
WHO:  Family Festival/All ages

Science and Engineering exhibits, local food trucks, entertainment, summer camp previews, hands-on STEM activities as well as outside vendors will be exhibiting their programs with hands-on displays.

For more info, visit this link - ASU cti

Saturday, February 16, 2013

February Meeting

www.gilbertgifted.orgHelping the gifted to soar!


Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted

Guest Lecture
 Thursday, February 21st at 7:00 PM

Pioneer Elementary Library
(1535 N. Greenfield Rd, 
near the SE corner of Greenfield and Baseline)

Shari Murphy

Twice Exceptional Student

This presentation will explore some of the characteristics of twice exceptional students, and recommendations will be given to help parents better understand the dual exceptional traits of their children.  This information can be used to help the parent-child relationship and assist parents in being better advocates for their 2E children.


Mrs. Shari Murphy has worked exclusively with Gilbert’s gifted program for the past ten years as a primary ALP/SAIL teacher, ALP coach/ language arts teacher, and is currently an intermediate ALP math and writing teacher at Superstition Springs Elementary.  Her master’s degree in math education is supplemented with endorsements for ESL, primary education, and gifted education.  Shari is obsessed with chocolate and “Songpop,” but working with gifted students is her favorite of productive passions!


ALP Parent Survey Review with Barb VeNard

Pioneer Elementary Cafeteria at 8pm

Click here for Survey summary on theGPS website



Friday, February 8, 2013

All Children Are Gifted - MYTH #2

by guest contributor Joy Arnett, Gifted Educator

MYTH:  All children are gifted

FACT: All children have strengths and positive attributes. But not all children are gifted in the educational sense of the word. The label "gifted" in a school setting means that when compared to others his or her age or grade, a child has an advanced capacity to learn and apply what is learned in one or more subject areas, or in the performing or fine arts. This advanced capacity requires modifications to the regular curriculum to ensure these children are challenged and learn new material. Gifted does not connote good or better; it is a term that allows students to be identified for services that meet their unique learning needs. (NAGC –

The best statement I ever heard on this topic was this - All children are talented. Not all children are gifted. All of us have at least one talent or something we are good at. Not all of us are gifted. Gifted means that we have an advanced capacity to learn or perform. One is not better because he or she is gifted. One just has a need for differentiated types of learning because of the way their brain thinks, learns and performs.

The gifted brain is actually shaped differently than a normal brain. I've also heard it described that a normal brain is like a two-lane highway. A gifted brain is like a 4-8-lane highway. The gifted brain can absorb information much faster and can retain more information than the normal or typical brain. Once again... this is not necessarily better just different.

A couple of my favorite books concerning the gifted child are, There are Those by Nathan Levy and Janet Pica which is a short and wonderful book that describes the gifted child beautifully.  Another fabulous book called Archibald Frisby, by Michael Chesworth, describes a gifted brain in such a fun and entertaining way.

Being a gifted child has its rewards and challenges. I'd like to share with you some thoughts from gifted children that I’ve collected over the years…

  • "I do things to go along with the crowd--- like asking questions I already know the answers to, just so they will treat me like one of them."
  • "Why do I have to be gifted? I was happier when I was normal."
  • "I wish my teachers understood that being gifted doesn't mean I'm good at everything. Not even close."
  • "You shouldn't have to prove your giftedness to your friends or teachers."
  • "If I want people to understand me, I need to try to understand them."
  • “Being gifted means I look at the world differently than some of my friends. It also means that some people are going to assume that I never have to work hard. And the truth is I work really, really hard at things. And, I hate it when, after working so hard, I don't do well."
  • “Never think that because you are smart, you are a nerd.  You are whoever you want to be.”
  • “My goal this year is to embrace my gift instead of keeping it on the down low.”
  • “I really like being gifted. I mean, the work is more interesting in school, my friends and I all seem to get along, and things are just…good.  But I still have to remind myself to relax.  That part will probably always be hard.”
  •  “Finally…I found other kids like me!”

Being gifted comes with responsibilities.  Five things that a gifted child must do are:
1. Recognize and accept that their level of intellectual or artistic ability is not shared by everyone…that they are, indeed different (most gifted children know they are different by the age of five).
2. Understand that they may need more time alone than other children do (and be supported by adults who understand this as well).
3.  Learn to build relationships with other people, many of whom do not share their abilities and interests.
4.  Learn how to use their abilities well, even when doing so sets them apart from many others.
5. Learn to take responsibility for finding ways to satisfy their intellectual curiosity and to express their creativity.

Are all children gifted?  No, but they are all unique and have a very special purpose in the talents and gifts they do have. It is our responsibility as teachers and parents to help all children discover their wonderful talents and gifts and to help them share those talents and gifts with their fellow man because that is where real happiness can be found.